10 best eye creams that tackle dark circles, puffiness and wrinkles

To give tired eyes some TLC, why not try these science-backed elixirs

Sabine Wiesel
Friday 14 May 2021 12:11
<p>These hydrating creams are specifically formulated to treat the delicate skin around the eyes </p>

These hydrating creams are specifically formulated to treat the delicate skin around the eyes

Your eyes give nothing away – they truly are, as the popular saying goes, the windows to the soul. Not only do they show off how you think and feel, but they’re a tattletale when it comes to revealing your health, lifestyle and age – showing up in the forms of puffiness, dark circles, fine lines and wrinkles.

To rejuvenate this delicate eye area, it takes more than just a couple of slices of cucumber, you need a targeted eye cream.

While it may be tempting to just apply your regular serum or moisturiser to the orbital area, don’t, as this can make eye concerns worse. The majority are too heavy with too strong formulations not fit for the sensitive skin, which is 10 times thinner than the rest of the face.

“Brands specifically formulate eye creams to make them appropriate for the very thin skin around the delicate area,” says Abigail James, skincare and wellbeing expert.

The key to finding an effective formula is to pick one with the very best ingredients, backed by science. Just like your face serum, hyaluronic acid will combat dryness and plump the skin. If you struggle with puffiness and dark circles, caffeine works as a fast-fix by constricting the blood vessels in the area temporarily.

Look to superstar vitamin C to brighten and stimulate collagen production for minimising fine lines, and if it’s lines and wrinkles you want to diminish, you can’t go wrong with a retinol eye cream.

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With so many formulations to choose from, we put the latest and best-selling tubs, tubes and pumps on trial to bring you this edit of the very best.

Naturally, our favourite formulas deliver hydration as standard, but also go the extra mile, whether it be smoothing, plumping, brightening, lifting etc. Whatever your needs or budget there’s a perfect pick to perk up your peepers…

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism acrossTheIndependent.

The best eye creams for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Youth to the People dream eye cream: £42, Cultbeauty.co.uk
  • Best for a non sticky finish – Vichy mineral 89 hyaluronic acid eye fortifier: £15, Lookfantastic.com
  • Best for rejuvenation without retinol – bareMinerals ageless phyto-retinol eye cream: £40, Johnlewis.com
  • Best eco-credentials – REN brightening dark circle eye cream: £42, Lookfantastic.com
  • Best for puffiness – Sunday Riley auto correct eye cream: £60, Cultbeauty.co.uk
  • Best for skin repair – 111 Skin space defence bright eye lift gel: £110,  Spacenk.com
  • Best budget buy – CeraVe eye repair cream: £11.99, Superdrug.com
  • Best for brightening – Origins ginzing refreshing eye cream to brighten and depuff: £22, Marksandspencer.com
  • Best for priming concealer – Ole Henriksen wrinkle blur bakuchiol eye crème: £42, Boots.com
  • Best targeted retinol cream –  La Roche Posay redermic anti-ageing anti-wrinkle eye cream: £27, Boots.com

Youth to the People dream eye cream, 15ml

Best: Overall

Eco-conscious and vegan, US skincare brand Youth to the People has just launched in the UK with an impressive skincare collection combining nutrient-rich superfood and vegan active ingredients. The overnight eye cream is a stand-out product in the line-up, enriched with stable vitamin C to firm and brighten, ceramides to repair, hyaluronic acid to hydrate and nourish, and goji stem cell to stimulate skin renewal.

The fragrance-free, creamy texture glides on easily, so there’s no chance of pulling the delicate area. Expect to wake up to a well-hydrated under-eye area after just one use, but we noticed a brighter eye with softened lines after just one week. Super impressive!

Vichy mineral 89 hyaluronic acid eye fortifier, 15ml

Best for: A non-sticky finish

From the much-loved serum of the same name, reach for this lightweight gel if you’re prone to puffiness and fine lines. It feels a treat to use, as it instantly soothes tired eyes, whether they need a morning awakening or an evening relaxation. Loaded with thermal mineral water and hyaluronic acid, it boosts moisture levels instantly and gets to work plumping fine lines, while caffeine helps to boost the under-eye circulation and the look of bags. There’s no stickiness that you may find with other HA formulas, and its gentle formula works on sensitive eyes too.

bareMinerals ageless phyto-retinol eye cream, 15ml

Best for: Rejuvenation without retinol

For similar rejuvenating results that you get from retinol products – think line-erasing, brightening and an even skin tone – but without any irritation or dryness, look to this new formula. Moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid combines with what they call phyto-retinol, a botanical extract from the picao preto rainforest plant that performs like retinol. The silky cream glides on making eyes feel instantly refreshed, but for more youthful results continue use and you’ll see a brighter eye area with softer lines after two weeks.

REN brightening dark circle eye cream, 15ml

Best: Eco-credentials

Made from new recycling technology that brings previously unrecyclable plastic back into circulation, we can’t applaud Ren enough for their green credentials. And it doesn’t stop there, as the main ingredients are eco-friendly too. Antioxidant elderberry flower extract is a by-product of the French perfume industry, and moisture-retaining glycogen is sustainably sourced.

It promises to brighten, hydrate and plump in just 7 days, which we can confirm is where we noticed the positive impact too. There is a slight tackiness with this one, but that’s what also makes it a great make-up base, and it’s also suitable for vegan and sensitive eyes too.

Sunday Riley auto correct eye cream, 15ml

Best for: Puffiness

It’s still hard to beat the rejuvenating abilities of this cult classic. Tap the golden pearlescent-like cream on for some instant gratification, as eyes immediately look brighter thanks to the light-reflecting formula. The caffeine and ginseng root extract instantly get to work de-puffing bags, while antioxidants and moisture-boosting plant-based ingredients do their magic simultaneously. Give it a few weeks to see long-term benefits, including a much brighter eye area and plumped lines.

111 Skin space defence bright eye lift gel, 15ml

Best for: Skin repair

Founded by renowned Harley Street cosmetic surgeon Dr Yannis Alexandrides, this science-based formula contains the brand’s NAC Y2 potent trio of actives. They can be found in many of the brand’s products, which were first used to help patients repair and accelerate healing time.

Expect an instant cooling and soothing effect when you first apply the featherweight gel. We noticed eyes feeling less puffy post-application, and continued for a much brighter orbital area. It’s pricey but worth every penny!

CeraVe eye repair cream, 14ml

Best: Budget buy

Our favourite affordable and effective option has a lot of love on social channels too. A mix of standout ingredients includes moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid, skin barrier strengthening ceramides and powerhouse niacinamide – known to soothe puffiness and help dark circles. After just a few days of continued twice-daily use of this gentle, silky formula, expect to see dryness banished and a well-nourished eye area. For brightening effects, give it longer to work its magic.

Origins ginzing refreshing eye cream to brighten and depuff, 15ml

Best for: Brightening

When an eye cream stands the test of time like this one you know it’s good. It’s been perking up tired looking under eyes for over ten years now. Tap on the cool cream for an instant wake-up. The optical brighteners illuminate the skin, instantly making shadows appear lighter – it’s also a brilliant prep for concealer.

It acts like a cup of coffee for your dark circles and puffiness, as it contains caffeine from coffee beans, as well as a mix of ingredients including hyaluronic acid and ginseng to refresh and restore. A classic pick-me-up we turn back to time and time again!

Ole Henriksen wrinkle blur bakuchiol eye crème, 18ml

Best for: Priming concealer

Following in the footsteps of the brand’s much-loved banana bright eye crème, this new launch had a lot to live up to. Its star ingredient is plant-based bakuchiol, found in clinical studies to offer similar rejuvenating effects as retinol but without the skin irritation. And it delivers.

Its cooling formula is a pleasure to apply, instantly refreshing tired eyes, while the lavender tint colour corrects dark circles, making it a great eye primer under concealer too. We especially noticed fine lines looking more plumped. We predict a new best-seller!

La Roche Posay redermic anti-ageing anti-wrinkle eye cream, 15ml

Best: Targeted retinol cream

Don’t be put off using a targeted retinol eye cream, as they’re formulated with the delicate  area in mind. Start introducing it slowly into your routine and you can’t go wrong, and don’t forget it will make the area more sensitive to the sun, so you always need to use SPF. The French pharmacy’s retinol products never disappoint when it comes to rejuvenating results. For long-term benefits, apply this low concentration cream and watch fine lines diminish with continued use.

Eye cream FAQs

How to apply eye cream

As the skin around the eye is thinner, delicate and prone to sensitivity, it’s best not to be too heavy-handed when applying product to the area. Use your ring finger to dab product gently under the eye and around the orbital bone until absorbed, taking care not to tug or pull skin.

The verdict: Eye creams for dark circles

Our best buy goes to Youth to the People dream eye cream for its quick work brightening and smoothing tired eyes.

For something a little stronger to work on lines and wrinkles, opt for a retinol formula like the La Roche Posay redermic anti-ageing anti-wrinkle eye cream – a great retinol starter.

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